The logic of empire
This is an excellent review (in The American Conservative, so sue me) of Kill Anything That Moves, a history of atrocities in the Vietnam war, all conveniently down the memory hole because (a) America doesn't lose wars (except Vietnam (and Iraq (and Afghanistan))) and (b) America doesn't slaughter civilians, even for fun (except for... Well, all those wars). Anyhow, though this paragraph is off point for the book, it struck my eye:
[T]he relentless violence against civilians was more than the activity of a few sociopaths: it was policy. This was a war fought along Fordist principles—Robert McNamara had gone to the Department of Defense straight from the helm of the auto giant—and the slaughter was industrial in scale. Victory over the Viet Cong was to be achieved by quantifiable “kill ratios,” to reach that elusive tipping point where the insurgency could no longer replenish its troops. This approach hard-wired incentives to secure a high “body count” down the chain of command, with the result that U.S. soldiers often shot civilians dead to pad their tallies and thereby move up the ranks.
Yes, I remember all that. What strikes me today, however, is that austerity is justified, by "the best and the brightest" of today, using exactly the same form of reasoning: The ratio of debt-to-GDP, for example, which we know, from MMT, to be meaningless.
Never mind that Rogain-Jagoff's so-called scholarship warning Danger! Danger! if the Debt-to-GDP ratio reached 90% as turned out not only to be false analytically (from MMT) and in practice (Japan) but was actually based on shoddy evidence and an Excel spreadsheet with errors in it: People still repeat the ratio, and the lie.
And if you think about it, you could view austerity as a war against the civilian population. It's not of the same order as the war against the Vietnamese people (read the review), but the suicides, the shortened life expectancies, the ruined lives are all atrocities, too, and fueled by the same mode of "rational" thinking.
Is there an issue with ratios as such? If so, what is it?